1. Heard, Lisa BSN, RN, CGRN, Guest Editor

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Opportunity is defined as "a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal" or "a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success" (retrieved from As I enter my presidential year, I marvel at the amazing opportunity I have been given to serve as your President of the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA). What I hope to accomplish this year is to lead and inspire our organization. I hope to show you that opportunities exist for all of us. To begin, I believe we need to have a vision for our future, the knowledge to understand what we aspire to achieve, and the ability to recognize our potential.


First, I'll tell you a little about vision. The 2009 SGNA Annual Course will be held in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis became known as the "Gateway City" because of the vision of President Thomas Jefferson. In 1803, he gave Meriwether Lewis and William Clark the charge to find the Northwest Passage, the "Gateway" to the west. They left from St. Louis and forged across the country to accomplish this goal. In their expedition, not only did they explore, but they also grew personally. President Jefferson's vision became Lewis and Clark's vision, and many people prospered and benefited as a result of their accomplishment. This was an adventure and a true example of growth and exploration.


SGNA also began with a vision. In 1970, Marna Schirmer, an operating room nurse from New York, recognized a need for knowledge in the new field of endoscopy. She sought out physicians and nurses who were practicing in the evolving field and began networking. In 1973, she was offered a meeting room at the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) annual meeting in San Francisco. The networking she had initiated brought 90 people to that assembly. At that meeting, the group chose the name the Society of Gastrointestinal Assistants (SGA). This was the grassroots beginning of SGNA. Ms. Schirmer had a vision to expand the knowledge and the practice of gastroenterology nursing. This vision resulted in the strong, professional society that we know today as SGNA.


Professional journeys differ for many. For me, it started with a desire to learn more about the field of gastroenterology nursing. Excited to advance my education and to network with people from around the country, I took the opportunity to attend my first SGNA Annual Course in 1997. Over the years, I recognized my yearning to share my knowledge about pediatric gastroenterology with my colleagues. I began presenting educational sessions at the national level. This involvement piqued my desire to become more active in the society. I joined the New England regional board and eventually the national board of directors. I began to develop a vision for myself and sought the resources to achieve my goals.


Explore your possibilities. Investigate and ask questions. As a pediatric nurse, I am a witness to children's curiosity everyday. We have a lot to learn from children. They are not afraid to ask questions in order to learn new things. They see challenges with a sense of awe. I give you that same charge: Be inquisitive!! Challenge yourself to explore your possibilities, stretch your boundaries, and seek the things you want to know.


Establish your own personal vision for your journey. What do you aspire to do? Where do you want to go? What are your goals? Perhaps you want to become involved in your regional society, join a committee, write an article, or simply expand your knowledge of gastroenterology nursing. That is the beauty of vision. It is not the same for everyone. It is personal and attainable only by you!!


Seek the knowledge you need to reach your goals. SGNA's resources, practice guidelines, educational products, and services are a tremendous way to increase your knowledge. Networking and learning from your colleagues in gastroenterology is another excellent method of expanding your horizons. All of these opportunities will help you build, develop, and cultivate your skills.


I am inspired by those who have identified their vision and taken their practice to the next level. For example, the gastroenterology associate who has successfully completed the SGNA Associates Program, attended a regional or national educational meeting, and finally, challenged themselves to present an educational session in their area of expertise. The nurse who has enriched his or her professional and personal development by achieving certification in gastroenterology nursing is another source of inspiration. Finally, our mentors, who continually support, teach, and encourage us to accomplish our goals, have a direct and powerful impact on our growth. There is much to learn from our colleagues who have established a vision for their professional journey.


You, as nurses and associates in gastroenterology, bring so much to this organization. You come from different backgrounds, cultures, and practice settings. What you all bring in common is your expertise and willingness to learn and give to others, patients and colleagues alike. Each of you is a thread of the fabric that enriches our profession and our society. You are the future of SGNA.


I encourage you to be open to the opportunities around you. Find your vision, enhance your knowledge, and achieve your potential. Is SGNA your gateway to opportunity? Yes, it definitely can be!!